A total 84 new video games were recently given the green light, according to a list from Chinese broadcasting watchdog the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television. Another 80 titles were approved in December, but neither batch included games from Tencent and NetEase.
China halted new video game approvals in March 2018 following criticism that they are too violent, too addictive, and are leading to higher rates of myopia in children. Some companies are now taking steps to prevent younger gamers from playing too long. Tencent said in November it will verify the identities of people who play its games in China via a police database and use the information to enforce playtime limits.
Tencent said in December the thaw in game approvals was “clearly exciting news” and it had an immediate impact on its stock, which reportedly rose 4.5% to HK$315.20 after the announcement. The Chinese media conglomerate took a bit of a beating in 2018 thanks to the freeze. It cut its gaming division’s marketing budget so executives could control their cash flow and curtail spending to “endure the hard times together.” In October, it announced it would undergo its first restructuring in six years and consolidate three content business groups into one unit.
Despite its troubles, Tencent profits rose 19% in the third fiscal quarter of 2018 thanks, in part, to its WeChat messaging program and investments in other gaming companies like Epic Games, creator of the hugely popular battle royale title “Fortnite.”
Meanwhile, NetEase CEO William Ding said during a November earnings call his company is not concerned about the Chinese government’s regulations and it believes it will help the gaming industry in the long term.